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Mol Biol Cell. 2009 Apr;20(7):2041-8. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E08-07-0699. Epub 2009 Feb 11.

Repression of BIRC5/survivin by FOXO3/FKHRL1 sensitizes human neuroblastoma cells to DNA damage-induced apoptosis.

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Tyrolean Cancer Research Institute, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria.


The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-protein kinase B (PKB) pathway regulates survival and chemotherapy resistance of neuronal cells, and its deregulation in neuroblastoma (NB) tumors predicts an adverse clinical outcome. Here, we show that inhibition of PI3K-PKB signaling in human NB cells induces nuclear translocation of FOXO3/FKHRL1, represses the prosurvival protein BIRC5/Survivin, and sensitizes to DNA-damaging agents. To specifically address whether FKHRL1 contributes to Survivin regulation, we introduced a 4-hydroxy-tamoxifen-regulated FKHRL1(A3)ERtm allele into NB cells. Conditional FKHRL1 activation repressed Survivin transcription and protein expression. Transgenic Survivin exerted a significant antiapoptotic effect and prevented the accumulation of Bim and Bax at mitochondria, the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential as well as the release of cytochrome c during FKHRL1-induced apoptosis. In concordance, Survivin knockdown by retroviral short hairpin RNA technology accelerated FKHRL1-induced apoptosis. Low-dose activation of FKHRL1 sensitized to the DNA-damaging agents doxorubicin and etoposide, whereas the overexpression of Survivin diminished FKHRL1 sensitization to these drugs. These results suggest that repression of Survivin by FKHRL1 facilitates FKHRL1-induced apoptosis and sensitizes to cell death induced by DNA-damaging agents, which supports the central role of PI3K-PKB-FKHRL1 signaling in drug resistance of human NB.

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